Winning sports stores

FRESNO, Calif.

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 26,000 readers and asked what mattered most. Things including selection, service, and value. Among the stores rated, big names such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority, as well as Walmart, Kmart, Sam's Club, Costco, and Target. Readers weighed in on independent stores, too.

The most popular stores were Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority. But that doesn't mean they're a home run. When it came to value, when it came to selection, when it came to the knowledge and the helpfulness of the service, it was kind of middle of the road. Walmart, Kmart, and Sam's Club scored even lower for service and checkout.

Costco's warehouse stores, known for great value and quality, rated well in those areas. But no surprise, the survey found that selection is limited and service is minimal. Outdoor stores such as REI and L.L.Bean rated high for value, service, and quality.

Consumer Reports says that your best bet is independent stores. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed were highly satisfied with their experiences at local independent sporting goods stores and at pro shops.

So the next time you're in the market for some sports gear, you might want to give your local store a try. Consumer Reports says specialty stores, those that cater to a single sport such as golf, tennis, or biking, also did well in its survey.

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